Financial regulators crack down on Internet scams

Financial regulators crack down on Internet scams

Financial regulators have uncovered 2400 instances of possible fraud, market abuse and unauthorised financial activities during an International Internet Surf Day, co-ordinated by the International Organisation of Securities Commissions (Iosco).

The surf, which took place in April, co-ordinated the efforts of 41 securities and futures regulators from 34 countries around the world. Regulators concentrated on fraudulent solicitation of investors, manipulation, the circulation of false or misleading information and insider trading.

On the day itself, approximately 300 individuals from the 41 participating authorities visited more than 27,000 websites. Of these sites, more than 2400 were identified for follow-up review, including approximately 300 sites that involved cross-border activity.

That review is now under way and could result in further investigation and possible enforcement action, says David Brown, chairman of the technical committee of Isoco.

"The Internet is increasingly used as a means to cheat or defraud potentially millions of people," he says. "Last year, the Iosco International Surf Day proved to be a creative and effective technique for jointly monitoring and detecting illegal activity on the Internet. This year, the number of regulators participating in the Surf Day increased significantly, demonstrating the international regulatory community’s commitment to work together to address the challenges posed by the Internet."

In the UK, a team of over twenty FSA staff investigated 130 sites. They identified 28 sites in the UK and 35 sites overseas that appear to offer unauthorised investment advice and investment deals, or advertised investment products, in breach of the law.

Separately, Isoco has issued a report which addresses the current use of the Internet by investors, the securities industry and regulators. It also reviews the implementation of Iosco’s 1998 recommendations relating to the Internet and explores the regulatory issues raised by recent developments in Internet use.

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